Jun 13, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat president Pat Riley and his wife Chris Riley watch during the fourth quarter of game four against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Heat Don’t Need To Panic

As we reached the end of Day 2 of NBA Free Agency, a hint of panic is in the air for fans of the Miami Heat. Some free agents have already agreed to deals; Carmelo Anthony is in the midst of being wooed by teams; rumors are flying around like crazy.

And the Heat have had minimal impact, as of yet.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that LeBron James wants to get a max contract (starts at a little over $20 million a year). That story is a bit puzzling, as LeBron’s max limits what the Heat can offer to free agents. Plus, it implies that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are going to take bigger hits than anticipated.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Chris Broussard brought a twist to the “LeBron is going back to Miami” narrative, when he reported that the Big Three aren’t on the same page when it comes to re-signing with the Heat.

Call me biased (and you will!), but I don’t buy it.

To say the Big Three are not on the same page about their decisions is ridiculous, considering that both Wade and Bosh opted out of their contracts to become free agents. Passing up a guaranteed $42 million isn’t exactly an easy decision. Yes, Bosh is likely to make that up when he finalizes his deal, but what about Wade? I’m going to guess that teams aren’t jumping at the chance to offer more than $50 million – an amount he’s going to have to shoot for to make this work out for him – to a 32 year old guard that isn’t guaranteed to play more than 70 games in a season. If LeBron chooses to leave, then Wade loses all leverage with the Heat, as they’ll know he won’t get a better deal than with Miami. You don’t think Wade would want to know what LeBron was thinking before taking that chance?

I’m going to guess this is a story drummed up by someone in LeBron’s camp trying to kick start the Heat’s attempts at courting free agents. Considering that the Cavaliers are rumored to be giving the Jazz’ Gordon Heyward an offer sheet of 4 years, $60 million-plus, which would take Cleveland out of the running to offer LeBron a max deal, then his party is going to need to create some leverage.

The Lakers, Mavericks, and Rockets (assuming they trade Jeremy Lin) are the only likely teams that have the necessary cap space to sign LeBron to a max contract that he might be interested in going to. This actually plays into the Heat’s hands, as they can A) offer more money than any of those teams (about $22 million) and B) they can save money if they can convince him to take the same $20 million that other teams can offer, and use the savings to get free agents.

The problem then becomes who exactly are the Heat trying to get? News broke that the Wizards re-signed Marcin Gortat to a 5 year, $60 million deal (ugh, good luck with that after year 3) and are trying to bring back Trevor Ariza. Those are two possible Heat targets.

Reports are saying that the Raptors have agreed on a 4 year, $48 million deal with Kyle Lowry. If that’s the case, then the Heat have lost out on another big name.

But is that necessarily a problem? For many Heat fans, they see the big, flashy names and immediately think the Heat should sign them all. Carmelo! Lowry! Pau Gasol! They’re all coming to South Beach *pops a bottle*!

Here’s the reality: Miami just needs to bring in players that were better than the ones that lost in the NBA Finals. Re-read that last sentence.

Those players are still available and aren’t being discussed. Shawn Marion is the wing defender that Shane Battier couldn’t be against San Antonio. Vince Carter would have led the Heat in three-point percentage (39.4%) this past season. Jameer Nelson was just released, as he was coming off a season that saw him go for 12 ppg, 7 apg last year. Is that not better than Mario Chalmers? No one seems to care for Spencer Hawes, but floor-spreading bigs are the new “thing” in the NBA, and he shoots the 3 pretty well (41% in 2013-14). The stink of Philadelphia and Cleveland might have soured people on him, but a change of scenery to a winner might do him some good. You know what these guys have in common? They’re each likely to be had for less than the $11-$12 million that Miami might have available.

You might scoff at those options, but it was players like Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, and Patty Mills that broke the Heat. Danny Green, someone who we weren’t sure could dribble the ball, was driving to the basket. And if I told you before the Finals that Kawhi Leonard would win the MVP for his performance on offense, you would have thought I was nuts. My point? They don’t need to bring in All-Stars or future Hall of Famers. Just guys that can improve upon what failed them against the Spurs, and can fit into the system that is implemented.

Look, I was driving the Lowry-to-Miami bandwagon. But I was thinking he’d be available to the Heat for $8-$9 million. The $12 million a year that he’s looking at is a bit much for what Miami needs to accomplish. Ariza still might be in play, but in a market where Avery Bradley is getting $8 million a year (!) and Ben Gordon can get $4.5 million a year (!!!), then he could easily get $10-$11 million. The Heat can still offer that, but Washington might break the bank for him.

But everyone just needs to calm down. It’s still Day 2. In 2010, it was Day 3 when rumors popped up that LeBron and Wade were going to Chicago. Things turned out “OK”. This is the time of year when rumors and “sources” are like currency to media members, so it’s just a matter of surviving the storm.

Tags: Commentary Lebron James Miami Heat Nba Free Agency Rumors

  • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

    Nelson, Vince, Thabo/Marion, Hawes… You’re right that there are still names out there, but it is certainly a little deflating that Miami struck out on true game changers at the 1 and 5. Ariza and Deng are probably the two best names after that, but they don’t make sense behind James.

    Nelson Cole Napier
    Wade Carter Allen
    James Marion Sefolosha
    Bosh Lewis Haslem
    Hawes Bosh Birdman

    Hamilton as 15th man?

    Those names could all end up on the team depending on if Carter and Marion are willing to play at the min. Does that team look better than last year’s? Actually… You’re probably better at every position at that point. It isn’t particularly exciting, but it could work out.

    • colin

      Hahahaha. Ur high bro. To quite honest think cle has a better shot than the heat. I was so pumped for the lowry sign and trade. But now since gortot and liwry are out I dont see anyone that would entice lebron to come back other than melo and we all no thats a pipe dream

      • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

        I would rather play with Bosh and Wade under a championship coach and front office than Irving and a rookie under a guy who has never coached a game with NBA rules and Dan Gilbert.

        If Miami is out, it won’t be for Cleveland.

    • Suk Madiq

      Guys like Haslem, Allen, and Lewis will not all come back for the minimum you know…

      • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

        Haslem wouldn’t have opted out if he didn’t intend to take a pay cut. Not sure how much is realistic. Allen is… 38 now? He already took a cut to come once, and he wasn’t nearly the player this year that he was his last year in Boston. Haslem (loyalty) and Allen (shooting is primo) might both end up being more expensive than that, but it isn’t unthinkable that either one of them could play on a minimum contract at this point.

        Lewis is a vet minimum player now. He just is. He only played in 60 games and averaged something like 4 points and 15 mpg while shooting a barely passable 34% from three. NO ONE knew what was going on when he started producing against Indiana and San Antonio. Someone might offer him more than that based on two weeks of production, but they will regret it.

  • Suk Madiq

    lebron must be sick of being the best player in the world and yet have it not be good enough for most people unless he can carry his 2 over payed sidekicks to a championship.

  • Suk Madiq

    I just don’t like Wade much as a player anymore. He looks great still in short bursts but just stands around a lot too. He is only really useful when Lebron is not in the game. I honestly think Gasol would help them more than Wade. If the Heat commit a lot of money to Wade it will be like the Lakers and Kobe.

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      He killed the Pacers with his midrange and floaters while also doing an excellent job of guarding Paul George.

      He’s still a monster when healthy….. Wrong way to word it. He doesn’t have a meniscus in his knee. He hasn’t been “healthy” in over a decade. He’s still a monster when he’s FEELING healthy. There’s just zero way of predicting when that will be.

  • Adam Ship

    Get confused with max salary and luxury tax. Is max salary the most any single player can get in a contract? So a team can sign as many players as it wants to max salaries. Now is team’s salary cap a ceiling before they start paying taxes to the NBA and other teams? So is LeBron saying he doesn’t care if Arison pays taxes, because if a team wants to be the best it has to pay for the best? With The Heat worth in the billion dollar range, $20 million is only 2% of what owners will get if they sold out. I don’t think the players feel sorry for owners who can walk away with $980,000,000 for the team. Also Florida is a low-tax state, so a player’s gross contract is worth more in FL than a contract in California or New York with all the state and city taxes a player would have to pay and get less in his pocket.

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      A max salary is the largest salary a player is eligible for under the collective bargaining agreement. This number is different for different players and depends on a number of criteria such as number of years in the league and even (in some cases) accolades such as all-NBA selections.

      The salary cap is expected to be set at $63 million. Teams cannot sign players that push the total roster salary over the cap except with a number of “exceptions”:

      1) Bird exception- teams have the right to resign their own players. Basically even if you are capped out, you can sign a player back to the same salary he was receiving in his last contract (plus something like a 5% raise)

      2) Mid Level Exception- Teams over the cap get an exception somewhere around $5.5 exception to sign new players. It can be used on one player or spread across multiple

      3) Roster Spot Exception (not sure of actual name)- Teams can sign players to the minimum contract allowed to fill empty roster spots

      There are several other exceptions and didn’t list all technicalities, but those are the big three. What this means is that once you hit that $63 million number your options are very limited for rounding out your roster. You can go over that point using exceptions, but at a certain point the luxury tax kicks in.

      Teams that are over the salary cap don’t automatically pay luxury tax. The tax line is going to be somewhere in the range of $75 million I believe. If annual raises in players’ contracts and the use of exceptions pushes a team’s roster over the tax line, the team will start paying taxes on every dollar they spend past the tax line. The tax escalates depending on how often you pay it and how far over the tax line you are. The tax is only a financial thing. It doesn’t affect who you CAN sign (the cap does that). It just affects who owners WILL sign. Hard to justify running your business at a loss.

      Most teams that aren’t in the process of rebuilding their roster operate over the cap but below the tax line during the season. Only a few markets are typically willing to pay the tax because tax teams are not eligible to receive a share of the tax revenue that is split between non-tax-paying teams.

      Miami is one of the bigger effective markets (James makes them a ton of money), so they are typically willing to pay the tax. The problem is that they will be in the repeater tax soon if they don’t get below that. Can they provide a worthy roster while avoiding the repeater tax? Will be interesting to see what they do.

    • Chris Posada

      Yes, max salary is the most a given player can earn on his deal. As for the salary cap, it’s the most a team can pay to players, but it’s not a “hard” cap like the NFL. That’s where the tax line comes in. For example: this year, the cap is supposed to be at a little over $63 million, with a tax number at around $77 million. Teams can only sign their own guys, as well as minimum salary players, to exceed the cap. Once they go over that $77 million, that’s when they get hit with tax penalties. I would highly recommend checking out http://www.cbafaq.com for an extensive breakdown of the cap structure.

      To your larger point…yes, it’s very hypocritical for Arison (or any owner) to shy away from paying the tax if you’re trying to build a winner. I can get why Milwaukee or Minnesota would want to avoid it, since they’re rebuilding. But you can’t try to play it cheap if you want to contend. San Antonio is an anomaly, since a lot of their guys have been willing to big pay-cuts to keep the team together. For an owner to cry foul over losing money, then turn around and get teams valued at over $500 million is laughable. Heck, the Clippers are in the process of being sold for $2 BILLION! That’s absurd. I can agree with LeBron on that point, since the owners locked the players out in 2011 because they claimed they weren’t making enough money (which also might happen, again, in 2017). I wouldn’t expect him to take a cut in pay if my owner isn’t willing to give a little on his end.

  • Josh Melton

    Sorry, I’m Panicking! Pat is losing his touch ):

  • Real M-Fing talk !!!

    What Riley needs to do is stop trying to get Gasol on the cheap and offer him some real money, if he signs with the Spurs or OKC, it will damage the Heats chances of winning Only Riley would believe he can rebuild the entire roster in one free agency off season… the Heat had glaring holes and instead of tweaking the roster And fixing each position here and there, Riley like an idiot stood pat and now he believes he can sign talent at the most over paid period in basketball.. Wade is not going anywhere so his threats are meaningless and Bosh is… WELL he’s Bosh, Riley needs to sign who he can…like Gasol and Ariza then with the remaining cash sign James, Bosh and Wade and if you can afford 2 of 3 So what !!!